Semanturgy – the science and technology of meaning; working with meaning



Semant-: [Gk semantikos significant, fr. semainein to signify, mean, fr. sema sign, token; akin to Skt dhyati he thinks



-urgy: [NL –urgia,fr. Gk –ourgia, fr. –ourgos working with (such) a product, matter or tool]


Semiotics: a general philosophical theory of signs and symbols that deals esp. with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics


Semantics: 1: the study of meanings a: the historical and psychological study and the classification of changes in the signification of words or forms viewed as factors in linguistic development b (1): SEMIOTIC (2): a branch of semiotic dealing with the relations between signs and what they refer to and including theories of denotation, extension, naming, and truth 2: GENERAL SEMANTICS 3 a: the meaning or relationship of meanings of a sign or set of signs; esp: connotative meaning b: the exploitation of connotation and ambiguity (as in propaganda)


What do we need this new word for?


Semantics ends up being a bunch of people sitting on their butts arguing if anything means anything ever.  It is all quite cerebral, whereas semanturgy is hands-on.  It is work done in the real world.  It is the work of communication. 


Semiotics and semantics study what is out there, what meanings people might have assigned or interpreted, errors in understanding or usage.


Semanturgy might use these studies or continue them as background research, but the thrust of the work is actually constructing meaning, moving forward, the act of communicating itself, in a conscious and purposeful way.


Semanturgy would include conflict resolution, translation and interpretation, speech-writing, interpersonal communication, marriage, legal argument.  It would include person-to-person, person-to-group, as well as a person creating meaning within themselves, assigning significance to their life through a rite or other observation.


The “meaning” spoken of is not just words, signs or symbols, but anything we see as significant.  The meaning of a seemingly worthless piece of pottery that has sentimental value.  The meaning of graduation for one individual.  The meaning of a moment of epiphany.


There is a balance between the personal and the communal, with no one having the final word.  An individual is allowed to reject a meaning held in common by the group, and the group can require that the individual articulate their position. 


It is the work of coming together to stand on a common ground where we can agree on the gist of the thing, enough to get it done, “it” being whatever the participants find necessary at the current moment.